Holistic Recommendations to Tackle Hate Speech, A Growing Intolerance in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 28th June 2022 | Hate speech plays a role in polarising societies as it can lead to intolerance between groups of people. This is especially dangerous in Malaysia, where race and religion are often politicised by political and religious actors for political or personal gain. The situation got especially worse leading up to the May 2018 general election and until the end of the year, with a spike of intolerant cases motivated by racism and religious hatred reported by INITIATE.MY. However, cases reduced from 2019 onwards. In these cases, political and religious actors took to intolerant actions to stir public fear and anger, and mobilise protests and clashes. Although such acts are dealt with through criminal prosecution, this is far from enough to tackle a multifaceted and complex problem such as intolerance. To holistically tackle hate speech as a key driver of intolerance, legal reforms, restorative justice approaches, public education and redress mechanisms must be prioritised as well.

This policy brief will illustrate how hate speech leads to intolerance, and propose holistic recommendations to tackle the problem. Three research methods were applied in the course of writing this policy brief, namely; analysing current hate speech policies in Malaysia, consulting experts and studying specific cases of intolerance.